State props, local issues

By Jessica Quandt Staff Writer
Hollister
– Despite – or perhaps because of – the recent inundation of
advertising for Propositions 68 and 70, some local officials are
unsure what to make of the two Indian Gaming propositions up before
California voters in November, but Gilroy Mayor Al Pinheiro said
he’s opposed to both.
By Jessica Quandt Staff Writer

Hollister – Despite – or perhaps because of – the recent inundation of advertising for Propositions 68 and 70, some local officials are unsure what to make of the two Indian Gaming propositions up before California voters in November, but Gilroy Mayor Al Pinheiro said he’s opposed to both.

“I’m against any type of vote that would let 68 and 70 pass,” Pinheiro said. “They would not give the state and the governor an opportunity to sit down and negotiate with these casinos.”

Hollister Mayor Tony Bruscia said he has noticed the onslaught of commercials for the propositions on TV and one for 70 in particular caught his attention.

“All these (Native Americans) go on camera and say they just want to pay their fair share. I find it hard to believe that anyone would go on TV to say that they want to pay their fair share,” he said.

Still, Bruscia said he will have to carefully weigh the details of the two propositions before he has a stance.

While 68 and 70 are easily and often confused, there is one fundamental difference: 68 is supported by racetrack and card house owners, and 70 is being proposed as an alternative to 68 by California Indian tribes. Still, the differences are hard to spot and are hidden deep within pages of jargon and arguments for and against both sides.

It will be especially important to consider the potential benefits and ramifications of both 68 and 70 for the county if the proposed Indian Gaming casino off Highway 25 is built.

The main question behind Prop. 68 is whether voters want to allow non-Indian-owned racetracks and card houses to install slot machines in their facilities. If voters pass the proposition, Indian-owned casinos will be given the choice of either paying the state government 25 percent of their annual revenue in taxes or forfeiting their current monopoly on slot machine gaming. If every gaming tribe does not agree to the 25 percent tax, certain non-Indian-owned racetracks and card houses will be allowed to operate slots. So, if voters decide they want both prop. 68 and the new casino is built, the state could potentially receive more money for services like public safety and children’s services. However, if approved, 68 could also bring more slot machine gambling to the new casino than currently allowed by law.

Prop. 70 has a different idea: Rather than taxing Indian gaming 25 percent, 70 proposes that they pay 8.84 percent, the current corporate income tax, which is what proponents have advertised as “their fair share” (Indian casinos are currently exempt from paying income taxes). Also included are the provisions that Indian casinos would have permission to expand their facilities beyond current limits on size and number of slots, and that the agreement would be good for the next 99 years.

Governor Schwarzenegger recently kicked off rallies publicly opposing both 68 and 70 and is airing TV commercial saying they are wrong for California.

Board of Supervisors member Pat Loe said she doesn’t support either of the propositions because of their longevity and their potential for negative effects on the community.

“My concern is that even though they say they (Indian casinos) have to do things like an environmental report, there’s nothing in Prop. 70 that requires them to mitigate the problems they cause the community,” Loe said.

She pointed to problems that the local government in particular might face with this type of project, including flood-plains, traffic and increased need for law enforcement.

“They say something about ‘good faith mitigation,’ but what does that mean? And the new compacts would be for the next 99 years. I mean, I’m not even going to be around to see that,” she added.

Still, others don’t feel as strongly about the propositions, at least not for now. County supervisor Reb Monaco said he does not know yet what kind of effects, either positive or negative, propositions 68 and 70 and/or the new casino would have on the community.

“Since we don’t have any gambling in the community right now, it’s hard to say what kind of an impact it would have on the community,” he said.

Bruscia said it important to get all the information available.

“What are the effects that the casino is going to have? What are the positives and the negatives of the situation?” he asked. “If there are more positives than negatives, then I think we should do it. If there are more negatives than positives, then I think we shouldn’t do it. But I feel it’s imperative to have all the information I can.”

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